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How to Change the World in 2009

More than 35 tools you can use to Inspire the World to Fitness® this year.

Happy New Year! This year make it a resolution to bring about global fitness.

How can just one person make a difference? It’s simple. If all of IDEA’s members (and others who read this publication) join together in this mission, our combined efforts can have a real impact on people’s lives throughout the world.

All you have to do is dedicate a little time, play to your strengths and know where to find the resources you’ll need to succeed. To help you do that, we have assembled this handy toolbox that you can use yearlong, from January to December.

Here’s everything you need to make fitness happen this year and for decades to come.

Start From Scratch

Don’t be afraid to take a small step to become part of the bigger solution. In 2001, Denise Moser, a junior-high teacher and group fitness instructor based in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, decided to offer an after-school boot camp program. When more than 100 kids consistently showed up each session, Moser had proof that there was a need for kids’ programs, so she applied for nonprofit status. Moser has since formed FF4K (Functional Fitness 4 Kids), which offers free after-school fitness and nutrition programs, primarily for 4th–6th graders. What began at one school in Fairfax, Virginia, has now grown to eight schools, with more than 80 schools nationally awaiting implementation as funding comes in.

After reading Bill Clinton’s book Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World (Knopf 2007), Jason Williams, a trainer in Baltimore, was inspired to create a foundation called Project Believe, designed to help organizations raise money for their specific causes. He started by donating a personal training session at a fundraiser to help the University of Maryland Children’s Program. The goal of Williams’s foundation, which is still in the start-up phase, is to find ways to help children turn their dreams into reality.

Teach What You Know

Stick with your own strengths, say the experts. Aritha Paris is the health promotion director of Healthways at William Newton Hospital in Winfield, Kansas. She specializes in cardiac rehab, older-adult, Pilates, indoor cycling and Lamaze classes and has taught some of her students for more than 28 years. “The main thing I do to inspire the world is try to get across to people that there is never a better time than now to start a commitment to an exercise program,” says Paris. “One of my 28-year attendees started out as an avid bicyclist. Now, at age 64, and after several knee replacements and rotator cuff surgery, he still comes to class. Sure, his intensity is different, but he is an inspiration to me and the whole community.”

In tandem with the British Columbia Recreation and Parks Association, BC Women’s Hospital and the Arthritis Society, Melanie Galloway of Vancouver, British Columbia, teaches classes for people with arthritis and offers a fall prevention workout. In addition, she has developed a program for those recovering from cancer, traumatic accidents and other health-related conditions. And that’s just a sampling from her repertoire of classes! Galloway says she enjoys working with the older and health-
challenged population. “As I move toward my 60s, I have tried to put more time into training and mentoring,” says Galloway. “I have put 200 students through my ‘Third Age’ course and about 40 [others] through my ‘Adapted Aquatics’ course.”

While working as a certified physical therapist assistant, program coordinator and fitness instructor, KJ Grimmett of Council Grove, Kansas, wanted to find a way to help her older clientele. “I was
looking for something that would inspire my elderly patients in the nursing-home setting to work joyfully with therapy,” she says. This search led her to a Drums Alive® workshop in Utah. “After attending, I felt a passion light up,” says Grimmet. “[I’ve seen] my Alzheimer’s patients regain momentary awareness. The drumming has helped my Parkinson’s patients with their gait and movement issues. I also use [the workout] with patients who may not be able to express emotions.” Because the drumming-based fitness class was so successful with her patients, Grimmett decided to offer it to the nursing-home staff as well. “Stress is a part of life for nursing-home employees, and they enjoy cutting loose and [releasing] tension. In this manner I am able to bring exercise to a group of people who may never have attended a fitness class, let alone set foot in a gym.”

Lead the Charge

PJ O’Clair of Manchester, Massachusetts,
2008 IDEA Program Director of the Year, STOTT PILATES® master instructor trainer and owner of Northeast Pilates Education Center and Club Xcel, is using her status as a fitness professional to reach out. When not teaching, O’Clair designs postrehab programs for breast cancer survivors; trains instructors to implement programs in their local cancer centers and hospitals; gives lectures and
offers workouts to single, young, low-income mothers in a setting that’s convenient for them (in terms of daycare and cost); and provides community classes, lectures and workshops. Although O’Clair does most activities as a volunteer, she sees the overall picture and finds reward and balance from her efforts. “No matter when or how you give, you always get back,” she says. “Volunteer involvement in the community in any capacity always pays off. Live the life that you wish to inspire others to lead.”

You don’t have to be a superstar to make a difference. “I am only a normal person doing normal things for the community, but I have realized that normal things oftentimes have big effects,” says Carrie Ekins, founder of Drums Alive and a frequent IDEA presenter. From her base in Kutzenhausen, Germany, Ekins takes her various Drums Alive programs (e.g., Therapy Beats, Golden Beats) into schools, nursing homes, churches and veteran hospitals; this year, she plans to work with soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or brain damage. “It is my goal and vision to spread the joy of movement . . . on more than a physical level,” says Ekins. “We have the opportunity to help people experience the power within themselves to be better. What we give is what we get. I believe we are responsible for sharing our knowledge with the world, and that world begins at home. We have a social responsibility to give back to our communities.”

Ekins accomplishes this in many ways; she teaches drumming to elementary-school children who go to special needs schools, and her Pink Beats program sends its instructors to lead classes for cancer patients and survivors. She also offers a swim club where the children do mini-marathons to raise money for a local charity organization. Ekins believes strongly that involving children in the process of reaching out instills in them a sense of community and helps prepare them to be inspirational and involved adults.

Make Time

However busy you may be, it is possible to carve out time in your schedule to give back. Just do what you tell your clients to do: block out the time on your daily calendar and make the commitment to show up. (See the sidebar “How to Get Involved” for ideas.) Laura Martin, MS, of Seattle, is a busy personal trainer who has found ways to be creative with her limited time. “I am constantly working so don’t have much time to start any organizations,” she admits. Yet she has found time to teach at a local community center for a nominal fee so people who could not normally afford training can get fit. She also helps with fundraising campaigns for the Seattle Children’s Hospital and is planning a Girls’ Getaway activity weekend. Martin fits this all in by doing her own workout at 3:00 am every day!

Okay, not many of us are willing to exercise in the wee hours of the morning. The point to remember here is that there is always time to do something. Like Martin, you don’t need to start an organization to have an effect. You don’t have to be famous or rich. You don’t have to go it alone. What you do have to do is find a way to inspire at least one person each day in 2009. What will you do to inspire the fitness revolution?

Advice From Fitness Advocates

Here is some advice from your fellow professionals who have taken steps to reach out and get people involved in healthy living.

  • First learn to appreciate yourself and realize the impact you can make.
  • Just get around to it—little things can have big results.
  • Be committed and surround yourself with people who share your passion and support your dreams.
  • Develop a team of experts who can help you spread the word effectively.
  • Just ask! Seek out help within your immediate community. Look for sponsors and other volunteers. Believe it or not, many businesses and individuals are looking for ways to contribute.
  • Take your cause to the media. This is a powerful tool. Take photos, write articles and get your community excited about your plans.
  • Be prepared and organized.
  • Believe in yourself and what you are doing. People will gravitate to your passion and drive.
  • Include the lower-socioeconomic population by charging low fees for your programs, if possible.
  • Have a financial sustainability plan (i.e., if you are charging below-cost fees to make fitness accessible to lower-income participants, be sure your other income can balance out the loss).
  • Educate people. They in turn will educate others.
  • Assess the unmet needs in your community, region or state.
  • If equipment is not available, borrow or improvise.
  • Ask yourself these two questions: “What am I good at?” and “How can I put my gifts to use?”
  • Keep your health and fitness qualifications up-to-date.
  • If money is your first consideration, consider whether your heart is totally committed to the task.
  • If you are contributing as a volunteer, be clear about your limits, to avoid burnout.
  • Share important health and fitness information at local meetings, schools, hospitals, businesses and organizations.
  • Keep in mind that you don’t have to give away free trainings or services; you can give information, invitations and inspiration.
Link Up:Inspiration on the Internet

If you have access to a computer and want to team up with like-minded professionals so you can share a project, bounce ideas around, motivate each other and inspire in numbers, try these sites. Each one has its advantages, so look around and link up!

Professional Directory Listings
www.thefitpro.com: This website connects consumers with fitness pros. You can also use the search tool to find colleagues in your area or share interactive content that informs site visitors about your own programs.

www.fitizens.com: This site hooks up enthusiasts and experts, allowing you to stay in touch, share trends and ask advice. You can connect through discussion boards, the question link or the workouts/info section.

Groups With Professional Interests in Common
Join pre-existing forums or groups that already have a fitness community, such as the IDEA groups on Facebook and MySpace. Or try these fitness-specific sites:

http://pedal-on.com: This “independent voice of the indoor cycling community” includes a “member & event pictures” section under “community connections.”

www.turnstep.com: The “kitchen sink” bulletin board on this site lets you read and post moderated comments and connect with other group fitness instructors.

www.crossfit.com: Here, affiliates of the CrossFit international elite fitness program maintain personal blogs (listed by state/city), which include announcements of fitness events and training tips. The message board is heavily populated with military and police personnel.

www.yogamates.com: This comprehensive site for yogis and yoga enthusiasts offers personal stories, blogs, events, interviews, announcements and more.

Social Networking Sites
www.wellsphere.com: With more than 100 wellness categories, this site lets you tailor your outreach to specific topics and people. For example, if you want to target gardeners, you can submit a post on the “green living” blog that offers information about calorie expenditure and gardening.

www.3four50.com: Focused on preventing chronic disease, this site emphasizes social awareness and action.

Your Own Online Community
If you are Web-savvy, creating your own Internet village will allow you to determine the site visitors that you want to attract. Once you’ve built up your online identity and “street cred,” you can build enthusiasm for your event or cause (among local members) or even share tips and encouragement for visitors. You can even use digital bulletin boards, such as Meetup.com (www.meetup.com), Upcoming (http://upcoming.yahoo.com) or CraigsList (www.craigslist.com), to organize a brainstorming session or community fitness event.Whether you reach out to people using fitness as a common denominator or encourage people to adhere to a healthier lifestyle through common interests, there is always a way for you to use the Internet to inspire others.These sites were suggested by Biray Alsac, MS, www.befitwithbiray.com, a frequent contributor to IDEA’s publications.

How to Get Involved

Remember, you don’t have to go it alone to make a difference; many established organizations would love to have your help. In addition to your fitness gifts, you can use your writing, speaking, organizing, coaching, counseling and business skills to make a difference.Here are some organizations you can partner with in 2009 to change the world, person by person. No matter where on the globe you live, you can access these sites for information on starting or joining a program in your community, region or country. The categories below are listed by type of organization and specialized groups.

Legislative Action

www.senate.gov, www.house.gov: These links let you contact U.S. senators and Congress representatives. Use the sites to influence legislation. Enter “exercise and wellness” in the search box, and you can pull up the text for a variety of bills, ranging from House Resolution 1068—which would permit certain active-duty members of the Armed Forces to obtain access to the congressional exercise facility—to Senate Bill 1753, the Healthy Workforce Act, which would provide a 50% tax credit for companies offering a comprehensive wellness program to their employees. The bills’ sponsors and supporters are always listed, and you can contact some or all of them to share your opinions and ideas.

www.ga0.org/nrpa/home.html: This is the advocacy link for the National Recreation and Park Association. Through this site, you can make the case that parks and recreation are a national priority, essential in the lives of all Americans.

www.ncppa.org: The National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity has been working to ensure that physical activity is included in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, better known as No Child Left Behind. There are sample letters you can use to fashion your own message.

http://cms.ihrsa.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=page.viewPage&pageId=18729&nodeID=15: Business owners may be interested to note that the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) monitors and influences state and national legislation that affects the fitness industry. You can receive action alerts and capitol reports, join IHRSA’s grass-roots initiative and advocacy campaign and share your ideas. The site even offers an Industry Advocate Program to train health club owners and operators on how to be the “voice” of the industry.

www.apha.org/advocacy/tips/advocacyACtionCampaign.htm: The American Public Health Association mobilizes support to educate legislators and candidates running for office about the need to include public health in the health reform debate.

www.acsm.org/policynet: The American College of Sports Medicine has an advocacy program that was developed to support a healthier, fitter America by calling for appropriate policies in local schools, communities and states.

http://member.aahperd.org/advocacy/: The legislative action center for the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation & Dance (AAHPERD) provides information and resources for health, physical activity, dance and sport issues being debated on Capitol Hill. This site also serves as an elections, media and training resource. Along with the American Heart Association (www.americanheart.org), AAHPERD sponsors the Jump Rope for Heart and Hoops for Heart programs.

www.lensaunders.com/aces/: Started by a physical education teacher 20 years ago, All Children Exercise Simultaneously (ACES) has schoolchildren from all 50 states and more than 50 countries participating on a specific day every May (May 6, 2009) in a simultaneous exercise class in a show of unity and fitness. Go to this site to discover ways you can team up with your local school to join this event in your own community.

www.cooperinst.org/ourkidshealth/: Our Kids’ Health is an initiative founded by Kenneth Cooper, MD, MPH, to improve children’s health by reducing childhood obesity. This Texas-based initiative uses legislation, testing, research and programs to reach its goal. To get help bringing this initiative to your community, download reports, research and brochures from the website.

www.healthiergeneration.org: With IDEA as a featured partner, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation (AHG) is a partnership between the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation. The AHG’s mission is to eliminate childhood obesity and inspire young people to develop lifelong, healthy habits. (See the sidebar “IDEA and AHG Team Up” for more information about this exciting collaboration.)

www.mygohealthychallenge.org/: Run by the AHG, this challenge offers games, activities, nutrition and exercise information, as well as testimonials and tips from and for children.

www.actionforhealthykids.org: This U.S. nonprofit organization is dedicated to addressing the epidemic of overweight, undernourished and sedentary youth; the focus is on promoting changes in schools, with an additional emphasis on the increased learning that takes place when kids are healthy. When you get involved, you don’t have to do it solo; there is a site form you can submit to be matched to your state’s team leader.

Older Adults
www.icaa.cc: During Active Aging Week (the last week of every September), the International Council on Active Aging offers free activities in retirement communities, senior centers, health clubs, churches and corporate fitness centers. Examples of activities include strolls and walks, exercise classes, education seminars, facility open houses and health fairs. You can sign up on the site to lead or host one of these activities.

www.fitness.gov/challenge/index.html: The President’s Challenge encourages all Americans to lead an active life and offers awards for fitness efforts. The program is available to kids and teens as well as adults. You can register online to exercise on your own or with a group of either beginner or active adults.

www.whi.org.uk: A joint initiative in Great Britain between Natural England and the British Heart Foundation, Walking the Way to Health aims to encourage people to do regular short walks in their communities. WHI has helped start more than 525 local groups and trained over 33,000 volunteers and leaders.

www.swindon.gov.uk/textV2/activechallengeleafletv51.pdf: This online brochure put out by the Swindon (England) Borough Council offers helpful guidelines on how to start your own indoor or outdoor walking program. You can pick an actual outdoor trail or create a virtual trail and have walkers count their steps. Consider awarding prizes when people complete the required kilometers or miles.

www.welcoa.org: The Wellness Council of America is dedicated to worksite health promotion. If you want to reach people through their workplace, check this site for free information and resources.

www.eubusiness.com/Health/physical-exercise.qa: This online article cites a number of European organizations that are working together to encourage citizens to make physical activity part of their lives. Involved in these efforts are the European Commission, the Union of European Football Associations, the European Non-Governmental Sports Organisation, the Federation of the European Play Industry, the International Sport and Culture Association and the European Health and Fitness Association. You can either tap into the programs described in the online article or brainstorm your own ideas and find partners to work with to improve health levels in your region.

www.standupandeat.org: The Cooper Institute in Dallas launched this site to help consumers balance the calories they eat with the calories they burn each day. You can do something as simple as directing clients to the site or get more involved by contributing posts to the blog.

www.fns.usda.gov/eatsmartplayhard: Put out by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service, this government site encourages and teaches kids and adults to eat a healthy diet and be physically active every day. Because it focuses on reaching low-income families, this campaign showcases a variety of ways you can reach out to the people who might be most in need of your commitment.

Medical and Special Needs
www.cdc.gov: This Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site has a wealth of reference information, especially for those who are medically savvy—or want to be. For example, if you are giving a lecture on obesity, you can find statistics, trends, prevention programs, tools, resources and recommendations. This site is an excellent “jumping off” point for those who want to target a particular medical group, such as clients with arthritis or breast cancer.

www.specialolympics.org: If you want to join a global effort with more than 700,000 other volunteers committed to helping individuals with intellectual disabilities increase their physical fitness levels, this is the place to look. There are more than 200 programs, held in over 180 countries. Whether you are interested in training people for winter or summer competitions, you are sure to find somewhere to assist.

General Fitness
www.ymca.net/activateamerica: Looking for a way to directly address the growing health crisis in America? This site outlines myriad ways to help the YMCA achieve its two-part vision, which is (1) to increase awareness of the spirit, mind and body connection and (2) to work actively within communities. Opportunities range from helping to add bike paths in your area to creating after-school fitness programs in your local school district.

www.physicalfitness.org: The National Association for Health & Fitness is a nonprofit organization made up of support councils and coalitions that are dedicated to promoting physical fitness, sports and healthy lifestyles.

www.shapeup.org: Shape Up America! is a nonprofit organization committed to raising awareness of obesity as a health issue. With a focus on education, this site offers excellent tips that you can use in lectures or share directly with students, clients and families.


www.clubsforthecure.com: Clubs for the Cure offers the support and guidance you need to conduct an event to benefit Augie’s Quest. The 2007 IDEA Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Augie Nieto, founded Augie’s Quest as a way to raise money to find a cure for ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), or Lou Gehrig’s disease. If you want to organize or participate in a fundraiser, this site is a great place to start.

IDEA & AHG Team Up

In July 2007, IDEA Health & Fitness Association and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation (AHG) launched a collaborative effort to prevent childhood obesity. This partnership was highlighted during the opening ceremonies of the 2008 IDEA World Fitness Convention, where fitness professionals and other attendees were invited to “get on board” during a lecture that laid out ways to become involved. If you want to participate in this endeavor, there are a number of things you can do:

  • Encourage kids to sign on to the Go Healthy Challenge at www.mygohealthychallenge.org.
  • Offer group exercise, personal training or mind-body services at Go Healthy events or at schools enrolled in the Healthy Schools Program.
  • Donate fitness equipment to enrolled schools.
  • Offer discounted membership rates to staff and students from enrolled schools.
  • Offer personal training services on a sliding pay scale to overweight or at-risk-of-overweight students from enrolled schools.
  • If your community school is not currently enrolled in the Healthy Schools Program, work with your local school district to become involved. Go to the “Healthy Schools” link at www.healthiergeneration.org, then click on “Healthy Schools Builder” to follow the six steps required to enroll your school.
What About You?

IDEA wants to know what you are doing or planning to do in 2009 to make fitness happen for people who might not normally access fitness services. How are you inspiring people in your part of the world? Contact IDEA editor Sandy Todd Webster at [email protected].

Alexandra Williams, MA

Alexandra Williams has taught fitness for 17 years and has a master’s degree in agency counseling, with an emphasis on marriage and family. Her professional training has forced her to scrutinize her own value system, especially as she attempts to raise ethical children. The author wishes to thank Jack Raglin and Jim Gavin for their helpful insights and suggestions.

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